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Advice on Sewing Machines

jesse68 | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Hi Everyone, this is jesse68.  I would love some advice on shopping for an electronic sewing machine, as I have finally convinced myself to buy one.  I am going to be doing a quilt, with freehand-drawn pictures, mostly in applique. 

My previous sewing experience includes a little garment construction, but more of craft-like projects, easy curtains, tablecloths, hemming and repairing clothes.  I have had a mechanical Singer for 30 years.  So far, I have looked at Brother NX 200-400, and Bernina PE 230.  Both models have wonderful features.  I was wondering what others have experienced with switching to an electronic model, if they don’t mind talking about it.  Thanks.


  1. MaryinColorado | | #1

    I strongly suggest that if possible, buy from a dealer that offers free "know your machine" classes.  on site machine repair or at one of thier nearby locations.  Test drive the machines you are interested in, they all have different features and "feel"

    I owned mechanical Necchi and Singer, Husqvarna/Viking Rose sewing and embroidery machine, Husq/Viking Designer 1 sewing/emb. machine.  They have all been wonderful!  Prices vary so much depending on the features you need.

    What type of sewing do you do the most?  I think good automatic buttonholes without hassle to set up, speed control, needle up/down, automatic reinforcing of beginning stitch instead of having to push the reverse button, auto thread cutting with backstitch, drop in bobbin, automatic tensions (that you can override), location of thread stands, auto bobbin wind without going through the needles, good light, large open area if you quilt, the ability to drop feed dogs for free motion quilting and threadwork.  Several built in decorative stitches (look better if fabric is starched and/or use a stabilizer and embroidery thread in the needle.)  Some like a knee or foot pedal.  I like the auto start/stop on my Vikings so I don't have to use the presser foot at all!  (3 speed settings)  The ability to sew knits and wovens and heavier fabrics.  Love my "floating presser foot" that goes over different thicknesses smoothly (even jeans seams).  Ease of changing needles, bobbin, threading, etc.  ergonomics.

    Some dealers offer full price trade ups for a year, Viking offers free machine and software updates online free on some models. 

    http://www.patternreview.com has machine comparisons, etc.  Go to the archives here, lots of info on machines. 

    Hope this helps some!  Mary

    Also, you can go to websites for Husq/Viking, Brother, Bernina, Pfaff, etc.  and see what models they have. 

    Most dealers have sales several x a yr.  Some have excellent gently used reconditioned machines with various warranties.  Good luck in your search, take your time getting the right machine for YOU.  Don't let them preassure you into more than you want.  You can walk away and go back later.

    Edited 6/15/2007 12:28 am by MaryinColorado

    1. jesse68 | | #3

      Thanks, good advice.  I did try the Brother model & loved the gizmos, but I think I need to try more models.  I want something that has the auto threading and cutting, buttonholes & also has the sensors to gauge fabric thickness, since I often hem jeans & would like the option of working easily with stretchy materials.  I think taking my time to test drive several is probably the best way to go.  Jesse

      1. MaryinColorado | | #5

        If you love working with knits, you might want to look into sergers.  They are the best thing for stretchy fabrics.  Also great for professional looking edge finishes, coverstitch is great, rolled hems, etc. Mary

  2. sewelegant | | #2

    Hi Jessie, just responding to your letter because ... ?  everyone has an opinion so here's mine.  I have been an avid sewer since I found out I could make gathered skirts and simple blouses back in high school 50+ years ago.  Purchased a Singer right after getting married in the early 60's and it seemed like a gift.  It only sewed FAST though.  Thought I would like to embroider in the 80's and looked at all the different machines and while in a sew vac place asked the repairman what he thought of all these these new electronic machines.  At that time he thought they needed a lot of expensive repairs, but if I really wanted one and could afford it get a Bernina!  I had noticed that all the sewing shows and sewing book authors also seemed to like Bernina.  So, I got a top of the line Bernina, it wasn't computerized and that disappointed me a little because it did not have all the embroidery features some other machines had, but it was a dream to sew with.  IT COULD EVEN SEW ONE STITCH AT A TIME.  I kept it instead of trading up in the 90's and now a granddaughter uses it.  I love my computerized machine and would like a newer model with all the great embroidery features, but the expense doesn't seem like it would work for me at this time.  

    I agree with the response about buying your machine from a reputable dealer who can give you excellent instruction.  I don't really think the make is as important as the  quality of the dealer you buy from.  In my area I would not hesitate to buy a Pfaff, an Elna, a Janome.  They have fun stores with lots of fascinating samples and classes to take.  I don't know the Viking, but my sewing friend who taught sewing has one and loves it.  My favorite Bernina sales shop has just started selling Vikings too.  Buy as nice a machine as you can afford.  If it sews beautifully and can do a lot of fun things, it inspires you to sew more.  Sewing is like everything else, you only get good at it if you practice. 

    1. jesse68 | | #4

      Thanks--I still need to test drive the Bernina.  I live in an area that has a lot of retail, so finding different dealers will not be a problem, and usually I check on the support/repair I can get on any big purchase.  One of the things I have enjoyed so far is learning about what kinds of great features the electronic machines have--it's been educational.  Jesse

  3. Betakin | | #6

    You might want to check out the new Viking Sapphire's. They are very large machines like some of the other machines for quiliting and they have 10 inches of space to the right of the needle. The 2 Sapphire models also have automatic sensor feet with no need of a pressure foot or knee lift. These machines also have an automatic adjustment for the foot pressure and several people have posted that when quilting with these machines there is no need for a walking foot. I hope you find a machine you love.

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